You’ve got to love a ‘Great’ British summer right? For some reason we always have such high hopes, but year after year it continually throws it down (apart from the two weeks you go abroad on your holidays), leaving us soggy, bored and with kids who are climbing the walls with boredom.

On those rainy days, of which there are so many, what can you do to keep your little horrors, sorry blessings, happy and entertained? You’ve run out of poster paint, are piling on some serious pounds from all the baking, and you just can’t mentally deal with another episode of Paw Patrol. So what now?

Time to go old school with an oldie, but a goodie…den making! Boom. This child-friendly crowd pleaser is an absolute sure-fire way of keeping adventurous little minds occupied when rain of biblical proportions is bouncing off the windowsills.

Dens have come on somewhat since the 80s…gone are the days of being able to throw a sheet over two chairs, whack a couple of pegs on them and pretend it’s a secret underground lair. Thanks to the arrival of Pinterest and Instagram, parents are becoming increasingly adventurous/boastful with their construction skills, and shoddy sheet structures are being ousted in favour of their more glamorous counterpart – the tepee.

We all know how much kids love playing with an empty box, right? This is the same concept, it just looks a little nicer in your living room than a cardboard monstrosity. Fun and quirky, these cone-shaped tents are perfect for imaginative indoor explorers and, even better, are super easy to make yourself. Seriously, my DIY skills are next to none – but with a little help from Dunelm, I managed to knock up a pretty impressive tepee in no time at all.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Pack of 6ft bamboo canes (available at most garden centres, approx. £5.00 for 10)
  • Flat bed sheet
  • String
  • Pegs
  • Fairy lights (optional)
  • Blanket or throw
  • Cushions
  • Dash of imagination

To recreate the tepee in our video, we used the following Dunelm products:

Non Iron Plain Dye White Flat Sheet, Jute Natural String, Soft Clip Pegs, Set of 100 LED Timer Lights (warm) x2, Grey Faux Fur Rabbit Cushion, Faux Fur Grey Cushion x2, Elephant Cushion, Striker 3D Cushion, Dreamy Days Cushion, Space Mission 3D Cushion, Faux Mohair Ombre Throw, Wedding Wands (flag for tepee), Black Arrow Chalkboard, Cactus Light with Timer, Disney Dumbo Dining Collection, Disney Cars Dining Collection

Step One: Structure

No architectural prowess required; all you need are your bamboo canes and some string.

Bunch all the canes together, a lot like if you were about to drop spaghetti into a pan. Grab the bunch from the top and let the lower ends of the canes fan out towards the ground. Clear as mud?

With one hand firmly placed towards the top of the canes, use your free hand to pull each individual stick outwards to create a wide circle at the base.

Once you’re happy with the shape, use some string to secure the canes into position.

Handy tip: weave the string in-between each individual cane for additional strength (whilst yelling at one or more children to stop hitting each other/you/the dog). When it’s nice and strong, play around with the canes if needs be – adjusting them to create a better shape.

Be prepared to repeat this step about three times, if, like me, you have a human bowling ball of a child who thinks it’s hilarious to throw themselves into things head first. Try super hard to resist the temptation of just throwing them out in the rain to see how much fun they have out there…

 Step Two: Exterior

Now that the tepee frame is structurally sound, add your sheet – you may need to wrestle it off a child first though, as by now they’re probably running round the lounge with it over their head making ghost noises…

Wrap around the tepee frame and secure with two pegs – don’t forget to leave an opening at the front, too (as fun as it would be to see them try and get into a doorless and windowless tepee, it’s a little mean).

Step Three: Décor

Time for the fun bit! Artistically drape some fairly lights over the entrance of the tepee for a touch of magical charm – we used two sets of 100 warm lights for extra twinkly goodness.

A lovely faux mohair throw is perfect for lining the base; this one from Dunelm is divine – super snuggly.

Next, pop in cushions, toys, pillows, and a twelve pack of Pom Bears – you’re going to want the kids to play in there ALL day, so the more inviting the better.

Allow a little bit of extra time here to continually replace everything your children take out when you have your back turned, “Can you please STOP touching everything – you’re messing up Mummy’s tepee!”

Organised fun is the best fun of all.

Step Four: Throw ‘em in

That’s it, all done! See? Easy peasy. Time to let them and their imaginations run wild!

That said, it looks pretty darn amazing in there…maybe Paw Patrol isn’t such a bad idea after all? You could hide yourself away for a well-earned five minutes on your own, or check Facebook for 20 minutes without feeling bad about the amount of time you spend on your phone in front of the kids. Just a thought…

Wig, wham, bam.


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